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I'm not a professional photographer, but I have been taking photos on and off since the age of 10 or so, starting with a battered hand-me-down 127 roll film bellows camera, since lost. I learned darkroom skills from my father (who preferred a twin-lens reflex with a full-sized ground-glass finder), wrestling under several quilts to get the film out of the camera and into the developer tank. And using the cupboard under the stairs (with a blanket over the door) as a darkroom. But the effort involved in clearing out all the other stuff stored in it was a considerable bother; so I didn't bother.

I switched to colour slides instead and let the various film manufacturers take the strain of processing. (But not Kodak because they used cheap and vulnerable cardboard mounts.)  This also avoided the risk of the local photographic shop not replacing the developer chemicals often enough, which leads to strangely dis-coloured images.

Having worked my way through a bargain-basement Russian 35mm film compact camera, a succession of increasingly automated 35mm film compact cameras, (using the manual controls as much as possible), two Praktica SLRs (TTL metering but no other automation) a Minolta Dynax film SLR and a Pentax digital compact, I now use a Canon DSLR. Plus accessories - there seems to be no end of them, but you never have the one you actually need with you ...

Rosewood half plate camera
Half plate camera in Rosewood

To say nothing of those accessories which just turn up. For example I have absolutely no recollection of ever purchasing a second hand macro bellows unit c/w manufacturers original box. Ever. Nevertheless there it sits, along with most of the other cameras above and two inherited plate cameras. They give rather good image quality on B+W plates - but are not in any sense portable. Sadly my Dad's twin lens reflex has disappeared.

Of course that the best camera is the one you have with you. Blindingly obvious, when you think about it...

Quarter plate camera with tilt & shift lens mount

The images on this site include some scanned from a large collection of 35mm colour slides taken with the film compacts or the Prakticas. There are also some from later on, (when slide film became less widely stocked in shops) scanned from 35mm colour negative film shot using the Minolta film SLR. However the majority are more recent and were digital ab initio.

I have always been interested in landscape and seascape photography - they offer the photographer the courtesy of standing still while you fumble for the right lens and settings -  barring wind and wave movement and those transient lighting effects which make it all worth while. You don't have to worry whether everyone is smiling either. But I admire rather than emulate those keen types who camp out on mountain-tops to catch the dawn - the majority of my images were taken as opportunity arose rather than hunted down. And the dawn shots were the consequence of sleeplessness, not enthusiasm.



Site updated 13 September 2016

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